Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Years Since Disengagement from Gaza

Jeff Jacoby sums it up (via Martin Kramer):
“What will we have gained by destroying thriving communities, dividing Israeli society, and embittering some of our most idealistic citizens?’’ one thoughtful Israeli commentator, Yossi Klein Halevi, wrote at the time in The Jerusalem Post. “The most obvious . . . gain is what we will lose: We will be freeing ourselves from more than a million Palestinians.’’ Many Israelis — and many supporters of Israel internationally — bought this argument, persuaded, perhaps, by the Sharon government’s sweeping vision of the blessings that would flow from so radical an act of ethnic self-cleansing. “It will be good for us and will be good for the Palestinians,’’ forecast then-Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who would succeed Sharon a few months later. “It will bring more security, greater safety, much more prosperity, and a lot of joy for all the people that live in the Middle East.’’ Olmert prayed that with disengagement, “a new morning of great hope will emerge in our part of the world,’’ and that Israelis and Palestinians together would make the Middle East “what it was destined to be from the outset, a paradise for all the world.’’
It didn't really work, did it. I especially like the part where Israelis - myself included, obviously - expected the dismantling of settlements and the evacuation of all military forces to have some impact on Israel's international standing, some recognition of Israel's good intentions. I can't say why I expected this outcome, since recent history had resoundingly disproved the thesis that Israeli actions might convince Israel's detractors to hate it less, but there it is. I thought this time would be different. Ha ha.
The fruit of disengagement was not the “new morning of great hope’’ that Sharon and Olmert — and their countless enablers in the West — envisioned. Instead, it was an erosion of respect for Israeli strength and deterrence. It was the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and the Israel-Hamas war that began at the end of 2008. It was the entrenchment of Iran, through its clients Hamas and Hezbollah, on Israel’s northern and southern borders. It was the burning of Gaza’s synagogues and the trashing of its famous greenhouses. It was the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, who has been a hostage in Gaza now for more than four years. It was the further blackening of Israel’s international reputation. It was the immiseration of Gaza’s Palestinians under a fundamentalist Hamas dictatorship.
I disagree with Jacoby, however, when near the end of his column he explains that most Israelis have learned the lesson, and won't be getting caught in any more wishful thinking. They will. I will, too. Whenever anyone offers us a plausible way to reduce the chances for additional wars, to diminish our domination of the Palestinians, and to gain approval of the international community, we'll take it. That's human nature, to rationalize that past bad experiences won't apply to a promising new opportunity.

I also specifically disagree with him that the disengagement from Gaza was such a bad thing. It wasn't. In spite of what many fools say, we don't occupy Gaza; 1.5 million Gazans are no longer part of the demographic balance of people under Israeli rule that was slowly tilting against the Jews; there's a clear and recognized border between Israel and Gaza, which is mostly closed; and since everyone knew that someday we'd have to pull the settlers out of there and it would be painful, at least now it's already done.


Barry Meislin said...

I would venture to say that it did clarify things.

For some people, anyway. Enough, at least, to put the left of center parties out of business (for the time being).

But Jews, somewhat paradoxically (or perhaps not), are prone to forget.

(Or maybe that should be, "are prone to allow wishful thinking to get the better of them"?)

But then again, who isn't?....

Anonymous said...

Well the issue is that Israel didn't actually properly disengage. It should have simply sealed the borders. Nothing in nothing out from the Israeli side.

What Israel got is the worst of both worlds - it got to pull out and not control the ground but also be responsible.

Personally I believe Israel should retake Gaza, not because I think Gaza is part of the land of Israel etc but for the following reasons:

1) People already say Israel occupies Gaza. It might as well have the benefits.
2) I think this will have a very good effect on the section of world opinion that really matters - Hizbollah and Hamas would see that Israel can also take back what it gave. If Israel had said in 2006, "Well we tried pulling out in 2000 but that didn't work so **maybe** we'll stay" then what effect do you think that would have had on Hizbollah's support?


Anonymous said...

I remember our media "finally Israel has become sane, made a wise decision, is on the right path, has come to her senses" the pro and anti and undecided Israel crowd sang all to that one tune.

when Hamas blew it and the much lauded by everybody plan didn't turn into what everybody had felt absolutely sure it would turn into, the media went back to "if only Israel had done this, that or the other" - nobody I remember said, now we must all stand together and stand with Israel who did the right thing and landed through no fault of her own in a conundrum.

Yes, I know about the unilateral thingy, but nobody to my memory bemoaned it or warned of it in the ululating during the run-up to it or during the actual pull-out.

So all there remains for me to hope is that the real reason for the Gaza-pull-out is the one mentioned almost as an aside in this piece.


Anonymous said...

ooops forgot
this is the piece:
Allies Divided
Benjamin E. Schwartz


Michael LeFavour said...

Why is it so hard to consider moving Arabs if good can be seen in separating? Is it because the Arabs are expected to kill if they are touched, but Jews are expected to accommodate meekly? Is Israel the national home of Jews or not?